10.15.4 Picons

So… You want to slow down your news reader even more! This is a good way to do so. It’s also a great way to impress people staring over your shoulder as you read news.

What are Picons? To quote directly from the Picons Web site:

Picons is short for “personal icons”. They’re small, constrained images used to represent users and domains on the net, organized into databases so that the appropriate image for a given e-mail address can be found. Besides users and domains, there are picon databases for Usenet newsgroups and weather forecasts. The picons are in either monochrome XBM format or color XPM and GIF formats.

For instructions on obtaining and installing the picons databases, point your Web browser at https://cs.indiana.edu/ftp/faces/picons/.

If you are using Debian GNU/Linux, saying ‘apt-get install picon-.*’ will install the picons where Gnus can find them.

To enable displaying picons, simply make sure that gnus-picon-databases points to the directory containing the Picons databases.

The variable gnus-picon-style controls how picons are displayed. If inline, the textual representation is replaced. If right, picons are added right to the textual representation.

The value of the variable gnus-picon-properties is a list of properties applied to picons.

The following variables offer control over where things are located.


The location of the picons database. This is a list of directories containing the news, domains, users (and so on) subdirectories. Defaults to ("/usr/lib/picon" "/usr/local/faces").


List of subdirectories to search in gnus-picon-databases for newsgroups faces. ("news") is the default.


List of subdirectories to search in gnus-picon-databases for user faces. ("users" "usenix" "local" "misc") is the default.


List of subdirectories to search in gnus-picon-databases for domain name faces. Defaults to ("domains"). Some people may want to add ‘"unknown"’ to this list.


Ordered list of suffixes on picon file names to try. Defaults to ("xpm" "gif" "xbm") minus those not built-in your Emacs.


If non-nil (which is the default), don’t display picons for things like ‘.net’ and ‘.de’, which aren’t usually very interesting.